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 December 2005

December 2005


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Retail Therapy - Bling's the Thing

a woman holds up a diamond necklaceOn the Hunt for Cool Jewels

By Elise Proulx

Looking for something sparkling to set your true love’s heart racing? Or maybe something nice and shiny as a present to yourself? Oakland’s home to all sorts of jewelry shops, from mom-and-pop watch repair joints to sumptuous custom gem palaces to funky hipster boutiques.


This Rockridge gem of a gem store specializes in custom-made fine jewelry as well as fine work from both local and European designers. About 60 percent of the jewelry sold from the shop—which has been on the same stretch of College for two decades—is custom-made. Designers consult with potential buyers while the goldsmiths work upstairs. Ask to see the design book, which is filled with photos of rings and other pieces made with precious metals and exotic gems such as black diamonds and Tahitian pearls. But don’t miss out on the artwork on display, including ultramodern oxidized silver-and-gold work from German artist Michael Zobel. Note the work, too, from local artists, such as a hand-crocheted white gold mesh chain with black diamonds dangling from it for a mere $2,900. Custom work takes three weeks to a month or more. Pavé makes lovely wedding and engagement rings.

5496 College Ave, (510) 547-7000,


Just down College Avenue and over the Berkeley border in Elmwood, 14 Karats also offers well-crafted custom work, including Celtic-design wedding bands and a lot of work in platinum. In addition to workfrom- scratch, 14 Karats is also amenable to altering pieces that you already own to create a brand-new look. The shop’s been in the neighborhood for more than 25 years, but the style is anything but old-fashioned.

Simple and classy is more the order of the day here, with the exception of the Celtic work, which puts a twist on an old tradition. This store is a great spot for men’s wedding bands, which are crafted with flair and pattern. After all, why should the bride get all the bling? And check out the fine earrings and pendants—they’re precious without being extraordinarily expensive.The store also has a small selection of estate jewelry.

2910 College Avenue, Berkeley, (510) 644-1640,


This hip, bright and friendly Lakeshore resale and new clothing shop also stocks funky, new fashion jewelry made by local artists, including East Bay designer Lila Marshall’s tribal urban jewelry in wood and metal (under the brand name Round Designs; from $48-$200) and Viv & Ingrid’s funky beaded hoops and necklaces ($52-$160). Maribel also has a selection of resale jewelry that’s extremely au courant.

3251 Lakeshore Ave., (510) 419-0677.


If you’re looking for jade jewelry, gold chains or simple gold wedding bands, head to the gaggle of jewelry stores clustered at the corner of Ninth and Franklin in Oakland Chinatown.The swankiest of the bunch is Kam Seng Jewelry Co., which stocks 14- and 24-karat yellow and white gold from Hong Kong, along with loads of jade pendants and bracelets, most of which are for pretty slim wrists.The nearby C&K is in the Pacific Renaissance Plaza (under which is the most convenient parking garage in the area) and stocks similar items, including Chinese astrological charms and pendants.

There are also three shops in a row on Franklin Street: Kim Hong Jewelry at 820; Kim Long Jewelry at 824; and Kim Lien Jewelry at 826. Kam Seng Jewelry Co., 388 Ninth St., (510) 839-6337. C&K Jewelry, 388 Ninth St., (510) 465-2822.


This venerable shop, which has been around since 1946, is friendly and stocks a fair amount of vintage necklaces, rings and watches, as well as new items, including diamond engagement rings in a variety of styles from trendy to traditional, and fashion jewelry. It’s a great Fruitvale neighborhood spot to bring in any watch or jewelry for repairs (with a shop in Walnut Creek, too), and Spitz also buys, trades, consigns precious and semiprecious jewels, appraises jewelry and buys estate jewelry.

3280 International Blvd., (510) 532-8572,

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